The Philippine government has intensified its surveillance of all travelers coming to the country after hospitals in Hong Kong raised alert level to “serious” amid outbreak of mysterious viral pneumonia in mainland China.

“All incoming travelers, especially those manifesting fever or signs of respiratory infection, shall be checked,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Sunday, as he ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to intensify monitoring of travelers coming to the Philippines.

Duque, however, assured the public that the quarantine bureau is in tight surveillance after China confirmed that 44 cases have been infected with the said disease

According to some reports, the mysterious illness is comparable to a viral pneumonia of unknown origin.

The Philippines has been dealing with heavy Chinese labor traffic as online gambling spread in 2018, making the country more vulnerable to the mysterious pneumonia virus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (Image source: SUNSTAR)

“I urge the public, especially those with history of travel [to] China, to seek immediate medical [attention] if [they] are experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Duque said. 

Meanwhile, Duque also advised the public to “embrace healthy lifestyles, practice proper hand hygiene, and observe cough etiquette to prevent transmission of respiratory infections.”

On December 24, the mystery illness was reported in Wuhan, a city in China with over 11 million population. This led to a speculation online about the resurgence of the previous flu-like virus or the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which took the lives of hundreds of people, mainly in China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. 

Hong Kong boosts monitoring and infection control 

Hong Kong has now implemented enhanced monitoring as well as infection control in their public hospitals and clinics. 

In addition, authorities in mainland China associate the majority of the latest infections with a wet market in Wuhan wherein wild animals were sold. 

However, they determined that common respiratory diseases including influenza, bird flu, and adenovirus infections should be blamed.

In the meantime, Chinese officials reported that there has been no human-to-human transmission, although the director of the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Infection, Ho Pak-leung, warned the city for some possibility. 

“Preventive measures should be as stringent as possible,” Ho said in an interview with Hong Kong’s public broadcasting service RTHK, encouraging the government to give real-time updates regarding the disease.


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